1. Matt Ryan – the Falcons quarterback had a career year. Ryan was second in the NFL throwing for 4,944 yards, trailing only Drew Brees who plays for a team known for its air-raid style, and 38 touchdowns. Not only was he effective but Ryan was efficient. The quarterback from Boston College threw only seven picks despite the level of productivity that he played at this year. Not only was Ryan good statistically, but he led his team to the second seed in a loaded NFC and led his team to an 11-5 mark and its first NFC South Championship since 2012. And even though it’s not supposed to be considered I can’t help but consider this playoff run Ryan has led his team too. I’m not sure that without Ryan, the Falcons are playing in February.
2. Aaron Rodgers – “run the table.” The elite Packers quarterback told everyone what his team that got off to a sluggish start needed to do to make the playoffs. Green Bay won its last six and somehow won the NFC North edging the Lions after beating them in Week 17. Rodgers threw for 4,428 yards and led the league in touchdown passes with 40. Like Ryan, he too took care of the football throwing just seven interceptions. Rodgers might not have started that hot, but this award is supposed to go to the player most valuable to his team and the Packers don’t win six-straight without this guy.
3. Derek Carr – I just mentioned the actual meaning of this award and I hate that it’s evolved into just giving it to the player with the best stats. Most valuable player means that the player who provided their team with the most value should win the award and aside from Ryan and Rodgers, no one else meant more to their team than Carr. It might not have been apparent until Week 17 and in the AFC Wild Card Round but it sure become apparent then. The Raiders threw Matt McGloin and Connor Cook under center after Carr got hurt and the Raiders just weren’t the same team. They couldn’t generate any offense and couldn’t even win a game. So when I look at the MVP award and say would they be the same team without that guy, the answer in Oakland is absolutely not.
4. Tom Brady – sure Patriots fan are going to think this is outrageous that their guy is fourth on this list, but that’s where he belongs. The guy had a great year, don’t get me wrong, but there is one glaring thing that makes me put three guys ahead of him. Yes the Patriots went 14-2 and had the best record in football and yes they looked unbeatable at times, but Brady wasn’t there for four games of that. Jimmy Garoppolo looked unbeatable in his two wins and Jacoby Brissett embarrassed a playoff team in Houston. I said it before and I’ll say it again, the award should go to the player who provided the most value, and I’m just not sure the Patriots wouldn’t have made the playoffs without Brady